Nature Deficit Disorder? I’m sure you’re thinking, “another crazy diagnosis…what will they come up with next?” Fortunately, this isn’t another disease that will make pharmaceutical companies rich and the cure is virtually free.
The term Nature Deficit Disorder was created by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Through his extensive research, Louv has found a direct correlation between the lack of time children spend outdoors and a large number of behavioral problems. Louv states that the #1 cause of Nature Deficit Disorder in children is parental fears. The media has fueled this fear and thus created paranoid parents that have “scared children straight out of the woods and fields.” Parental fears keep kids indoors rather than exploring and connecting with nature. Some parents opt for “safe” organized sports to get their children active but there is still a disconnect with nature and these alternatives do not allow for imaginative play.
Effects of Nature Deficit Disorder
- The health our our planet is put in jeopardy. Due to the lack of connection with nature, kids will grow up with little respect for their surroundings, which greatly impacts the future of the Earth.
- Attention disorders and depression may develop. According to Louv, “kids who don’t get nature-time seem more prone to anxiety, depression, and attention disorders.”
- Decrease in overall grades. Louv’s studies show that outdoor classrooms produce higher grades in social studies, science, language, and math.
- Childhood obesity will increase. American children spend on average 44 hours a week with electronic media, such as TV, video games & the computer.
So how do you reverse the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder? Well, its quite simple really. Turn off the TV, computer, cell phone & video games and let your children’s imagination go wild. As parents, we have to make the commitment to provide opportunities for outdoor exploration at least 30-60 minutes every day. This could be as easy as walking out your door and letting them look under rocks, pick up sticks, and discovering all that nature has to offer. It’s amazing how long children can entertain themselves with a stick and their own imagination.
If you need some inspiration on how to get your kids active and exploring their surroundings, here are some helpful websites.